Let Me Explain ‘ Out Now’

British born Hip-Hop artist/producer, AKS (pronounced “Ay-Kay-Ess”).

Heralded as one of the most revered British lyricists by publications such as Hypetrak, Okayplayer, SoulCulture, and co-signed by Roc Nation’s Young Guru; the South Londoner’s 2016 sophomore EP, (second project in his three-part Modes of Transport series) – Train of Thought saw the rapper lauded with praise; and earned him two nominations at the inaugural Unsigned Music Awards 2016 (Best Urban Act & Best Album/EP/Record).

Fast forward to 2021 and the “three-letter man” whet appetites for the closing instalment of his trilogy with the motivational single ‘Up & Up (Heavens Above)’ earning the rapper further support from the likes of Capital XTRA’s DJ Semtex (#SemtexSelects), Ellie Prohan (KISS FM) and Hip-Hop legend Chuck D (Public Enemy), asserting the rapper as one of the most promising acts in the UK’s fast rising urban scene. 

1. For someone that is yet to discover ‘AKS and would you describe yourself?

I’m the South-London lyricist who’s heavy on soul and emotion. Think “A rapper like Common, but if he was a Brit”…at least that’s what I’ve heard people say and I’m here for it. I’ve been doing this for a while steady building and generally people are surprised like “Why am I only hearing about you now?” but it looks like my time in the sun is fast approaching. If lyricism and someone who keeps it 100% real, 100% of the time is your thing. I’m the guy you wanna check out. 

2. What inspired you as an artist?

I’m a student of Hip-Hop, so there’s a love of it that’s pushing me to further my craft and see how far I can push my creativity and ability with the pen. But life is always going to be the ultimate inspiration. My hopes, my dreams, my aspirations, fears, challenges and struggles. We’re all living the same human experience, and for the most part all trying to elevate so peeps will find a lot of synergy with my story and the places that I’m speaking from. But I’m not trying to kick a stereotypical narrative. I come from the same places, but I’ve walked a different path to get here and I know that most peeps are going to resonate with my journey, seeing a true reflection of themselves in me.

3. What is your process for preparing to perform live? Do you have any Diva demands? 

What are diva demands? LOL. Nah, nothing like that. I usually play with a live band so you gotta accommodate the peeps but genuinely it’s bide my time, get up and do as in the rehearsal, don’t get too lost in the sauce, and remember the cues. Like I said I’m “the emotive rapper”, so I really need to travel emotionally in order to give the authentic version of who I was when I wrote songs and whatever I was going through at that time

If a song is drenched in despair I want the audience to be able to feel that through the performance, if it’s joyous I want peeps to catch a vibe and turn up with me. Having that light and shade means having to relive stuff over and over again and being comfortable being open and honest on stage. 

4. Where do you feel you fit into the music landscape?

Primarily I’d say I’m an artist with Soul. I stop short of saying I’m a Soul artist because sonically I definitely fit in Hip-Hop but that Soul and Jazz influence is heavy in all of my music, irrespective of whatever genre I’m channelling.

I think people recognise that…it’s indicative of the peeps that embrace me musically.

5: What are your favourite musical genres, and are there any you dislike? 

I grew up in London so I think most of our musical palette’s are wide. I love anything that’s Soul oriented. Hip-Hop, Grime, R’nB, Gospel, Jungle…Soul itself, Jazz,  and culturally I absolutely love AFROBEAT(S). Those are the genres that speak to my spirit the most. But I listen to a lot of stuff far and wide. Music is a universal language so anytime peeps are communicating a story and a real emotion I’m going to gravitate to that. Except for stuff that’s SUPER Electro I can’t always get down with the frequency. lol

6. Why, where did the name come from?

I’m not going to bore you with my full name, unless you’re Yoruba you’re probably going to struggle to pronounce it. But peeps have been calling me Aks for as long as I can remember. The real is I got tired of seeing it misspelt whenever people booked me for a show, so I started spelling it out whenever I hit the stage. “I go by the name of A…K….S….” and it stuck! “…Nothing More, Nothing Less”

7 What would you say is your greatest strength as an Artist?

Emotion and vulnerability. As a rapper, I wear my hear on my sleeve and give people the most honest parts of who I am as a person. A lot of my stuff resides in a vulnerable place, like this music thing is a form of therapy for me. So that’s the thing that I think marks me apart from the field, the willingness to be open, honest and vulnerable on a record.

8. What would you say is your greatest weakness as an Artist?

Emotion and vulnerability! LOL! I often find myself in spaces where I’m not able to compromise who I am because of it. I’m not sure if it really is a weakness in the grand scheme of things, but I know that it’s a major factor that’s meant that I’ve had to take the long way round. There’s a blessing and greatness in that, but it’s not lost on me the route I’ve travelled. Every big moment or major co-sign I have my bredrin’s will say “We want you to know that you did it, making all the sacrifices, but NO COMPROMISES!

 9.  What can fans expect from your new single ‘Let Me Explain’

The honest reflections of a rapper who knows in his heart that the effort and time he spent honing his craft has yielded dividend! I’ve walked into a space where my opinion of self has begun to align with the confidence that my audience and listeners have had in me for years. I ask every new follower to give me 3 words that they’d use to describe my music. The words the responses that they gave me are what inspired this. Authentic, Conscious, Lyrical, Wordsmith, Passionate, Genuine, Versatile..etc This is me hearing all of that and owning it! Letting the world know that when it comes to lyricism I’m one of the best the UK has to offer.

10. What music artists would you say have influenced your work? 

I’m influenced by a range of different artist at this point globally. Wheter its Common, Nas, Cole or Kendrick stateside or it’s Kano, Wretch and Ghetts over here in the UK. I’m a true fan of the scene, so I look at peeps I came up with, peeps I poured into and those that poured into me like Che Lingo, Kojey, Namesbliss, Kay Young, Incisive, Emmavie, Alfa-Mist, Sam Henshaw ENNY, Simz and I’m encouraged by how things are progressing for us all. 

11. Who would you most like to collaborate with artistically?

My biggest musical influences are Common, Kano and Kanye West, well old Kanye, albeit that I still mess with some of the new stuff. I also love Rapsody and Simz and would love to jump on a record with either of them. But honestly as far as collaborations go I’m quite open to working with any peeps that are in the same remit of sharing their soul on records. I’m an artist that’s really active on Instagram and by and large my favourite artists are becoming the peeps on there and TikTok who have found a way to take this thing that they love and meet an audience who appreciate them for it and I’ve already collaborated with loads of artists just from finding synergy in that.

12. What was your worst performance?

Once upon a time, Iauditioned for a show in the UK that was Rap’s answer to X Factor etc as part of the group I came up with. I’d made it one of those “all or nothing” moments in my head, and was super nervous and ended up forgetting my bars. It happens…but that day it was shock and horror especially as I was conscious that cameras were rolling and I couldn’t get back. I remember being roasted by the judges who had all great things to say about my band mates, but only comments about how I’d let them down! I’ve never seen the footage but it was definitely the worst I’ve ever felt about making music…but check the comeback tour though! LOL!

13: What was the most difficult obstacle you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

I’ve been here for long enough to know that obstacles are always going to present themselves. It’s Murphy’s Law…”anything that can go wrong will go wrong!”. But in general the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with is loss of loved ones, most notably my Mother, and creating music is the place that I found to channel that. Like I said before, in large part this is therapeutic for me. I’m speaking from that emotional part of me always and it’s great to have that outlet to be able to really work through my emotions and have an artefact of them whenever I hear the record back. I know where I’ve been, where I was, what I was feeling at that moment, and in some ways I hope the stuff I’ve made is a testament of the people I’ve lost.

14: What is your creative process when making music. Do you work with others or is there just you? 

As the years have gone on I’ve become more and more the impetus for everything. So most songs begin and end with me, albeit that I do work with other producers like Dem Drums or Self-Taught Beats, most of which I have long standing relationships with and they understand my process.

A lot of the time I get some inspiration, mostly from everyday life events and I go into this solitary space where most ideas are formed. That could be a full song, or a musical motif that needs embellishing etc. I just kinda let the inspiration take me and on the other side of that I have a song.

Recently I’d say, that’s become more at will. But yea, I feel like a bit of a vessel and just speaking from my emotion and soul whatever it is it is. The peeps I work with know that I’m going to go for the best and put things together to facilitate creating the best song possible, and as a collective of creators we’re all invested in that collaborative process. That being said, the words are my domain and I just make sure I’m pouring myself into it.

15 Where do you see your musical career in 10 years?

Think of the people that you champion as the best lyricists in the world. Peeps already feel like this but I believe that my name should be among them. So what I see for myself is more music, more willingness to share the stuff I make and really embrace the confidence people have in me wholeheartedly. 10 years is a long time, who knows what that’ll bring, but I will have my time in the sun and there’s a name you’re going to remember. It has #3Letters.